Seaver reflects on lessons learned

Mets great touches down in Buffalo for All-Star festivities

By Kevin Prise / Buffalo Bisons | July 11, 2012 11:57 AM ET

Back in 1966, Tom Seaver set foot in Buffalo for the first time, as a member of the Triple-A Jacksonville Suns. The iconic pitcher thinks he displayed some hitting prowess in the matchup with the Bisons at War Memorial Stadium - but can't be quite sure.

"I think - this is the 67-year old brain thinking - I think I hit a home run," Seaver said. "I think."

Don't knock the man too hard for not remembering clearly, though. After all, it was 46 years ago.

Fast forward to 2012, and Seaver is back in the Queen City, taking part in Triple-A All-Star Week festivities. After a magnificent career in baseball, Seaver is soaking in all Buffalo has to offer, interacting with the game's newest wave of players - and having a lot of fun with it.

"It's great to be back in Buffalo," Seaver said. "It's enjoyable to be here, and it brought back a lot of memories."

And what a career it was for Seaver. The right-handed Hall of Famer affectionately known as 'Tom Terrific' is well-regarded as one of the greatest pitchers to ever take the mound - with a career record of 311-205, and a sparkling 2.86 ERA to back up the win-loss totals.

Seaver helped lead the Mets to a 1969 World Series title, throwing a complete 10-inning game in a 2-1 Game 4 victory over Baltimore (the Mets won the series in five), and posted a 1.76 ERA in a 20-win 1971 campaign. Although he retired more than a quarter-century ago, Seaver's thirst for conquering opposing batters shines through to this day.

One of Seaver's keys to consistent success is the knowledge that successful pitching requires more than simply 'throwing'. As his game matured, Seaver realized this - and it allowed him to perplex batters, year after year.

"The game captured my heart, and it stayed with me," Seaver said. "But it came to such a different level. Pitching went from a throwing exercise to a beautiful combination of physical and intellectual intertwining...I got to the point where it was such a beautiful art form."

Aside from the lesson that pitching involves a combination of both mental and mechanical savvy, Seaver maintains other beliefs that he would like younger players to hold true. With so much focus on the individual in today's society, the Mets legend hopes that the next generation of greats will take some time to learn a thing or two about past generations of the game that brings them glory.

"I think it's extremely important for them to understand the history," Seaver said. "What about Walter Johnson, what about Ruth and Gehrig, what about Cobb? What about those people that laid the foundation for our game?"

Seaver knows that aside from personal success and accolades, it's the little things that can make a life or career especially memorable. The game of baseball provides the perfect outlet to foster lifelong friendships and relationships - and Seaver was in a reflective mood on Wednesday, sharing a few memories from along the way.

It was 1967 - Seaver's rookie year - and he was selected to his first All-Star Game. Just 22 years old at the time, Seaver was asked for his ID at the Anaheim clubhouse entrance - already enough to make a young pitcher feel out of place.

But there would be more hazing in store for the young Met. A few moments later, he was approached by Cardinals great Lou Brock - and given a simple request.

"He saw me walking by, and he said, 'hey, kid, get me a Coke'," Seaver said. "He thought I was a clubhouse kid."

Not one to take the slight from a colleague, Seaver responded in turn - although he can't reveal exactly what was said.

"I can't tell you what I told him," Seaver said. "Because there was an adjective in there, which you can't print. So I might as well not tell you."

Once Brock learned Seaver's true identity, a friendly relationship began to develop, and the two Hall of Famers catch up every year at the induction ceremony in Cooperstown. But still, whenever they see each other, Brock will always have a special favor to ask.

"For twenty years that I played in the big leagues, every time that I saw Lou Brock, he said, 'hey, kid, get me a Coke'," Seaver said. "I go to Cooperstown, and every time Lou sees me, he says, 'hey, kid, get me a Coke'."

Just one of many baseball memories for Seaver, generated from a life in the game.

Seaver, the only player to have his number (#41) retired by the Mets organization. Seaver, inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, after receiving the all-time highest percentage of votes - 98.84%. Seaver, 1967 Rookie of the Year, with 11 NL All-Star nominations in the first 12 years of his career.

A pretty good career, by even the highest of standards. And still, Seaver has found a new passion to devote his competitive thirst and energy upon retirement - his vineyard. The California resident enthusiastically refers to his wine-making career as a new 'journey' - and feels no need to complete the path anytime soon.

When Seaver touched down in Buffalo back in 1966, his first journey - in baseball - was just getting underway. Returning as a Hall of Famer and sporting legend, his baseball days may be behind him - but that doesn't mean the good times have subsided.

Quite the contrary, as a matter of fact.

"I loved what I did for 20 years," Seaver said. "I live in California, two daughters, four grandsons. My wife looks like she's 40, maybe, at the most, and we've been married 44 years. As far as my life goes, I don't think I've ever been happier."

For a man who dominated the big leagues for nearly 20 years, that's saying something.

-the herd-

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More